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Topdown combat system

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by PuppyPolice, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. PuppyPolice


    Oct 27, 2017
    Hey, I'm making this thread due to the fact I'm working on a topdown combat system but been lacking in inspiration, so I wanted to ask the community of what people find fun with different top down combat systems and any example that might exist, since their are soooo many games its hard to test out all so I might have missed a lot great games with great combat systems.

    This is just my opinion.
    Right now I know of two that I find really enjoyable, you have the games like Zelda - a´Link to the Past, a melee focused combat system with different items that makes it varied, I find it a bit on the slower side, with more focus on knowing the different mobs and positioning yourself to avoid damage and being able to inflict damage while using different items to change how you approach different situations.

    Then their is Entering the Gungeon, with it high pace combat, all about dodging and reacting quickly, with different guns that changes how you approach each situation and the random nature of what you get makes it like a new run everytime.

    So I'm wondering what kind of combat system have you seen that you would consider the cream of the crop of topdown combat and why?
  2. TonyLi


    Apr 10, 2012
    If the game is about player skill, then I like something with accurate, instantly-responsive controls, even if the physics aren't realistic. It's hard enough aiming from a top-down perspective without having to deal with unresponsive controls.

    If the game is about progressing through the environment and/or story, then I prefer aim assist so I can pay more attention to the environment and story, and less to the fine details of aiming.

    Either way, positioning, cover, and obstacles make the combat arena fun, especially if they're reactive, such as being destructible or changing over time. A variety of enemies with different ranges and abilities are important, too. More important than different player weapons, at least for me.
    Martin_H likes this.


    Jun 1, 2017
    Just for sake of argument I say take Tonys two opposed ideas and mix together. Fast skill based combat juxtaposed with moments of quiet exploration /looting. I don't think it must be separate game. Just in how you manage the pacing.

    Most important question is what can I get done in time to a certain quality? That may necessitate a more narrowly focused game.

    Either of two examples.mentioned in first post sound good to me. Taking and refining it seems like smart move to me, both for learning and for msrket

    I think.most important thing is to playtwst as much as possible so you.can discover.whst the games unique identity wants to be. Then you align everything in the game to point towards that singular vision. There will become point where you must have clear final goal and commit to it, but if you playtesting and doing the work you will.know when that point is.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
    TonyLi likes this.
  4. Not_Sure


    Dec 13, 2011
    You really have two mechanics going on at once: skill and tactical decision making. Throw in multiplayer and you can add "co-operation".

    For skill, think of your twin stick shooters like Robotron, Smash TV, and EtG. The player needs to pay attention to two things happening at once: shooting something on one side of the screen and dodging shots on the other. It's physically impossible to both at the same time so you're constantly switching gears and having to interpolate trajectories of your shots and enemy shots as your eyes dart back and forth.

    Other ways to include skill are timing, such as with the Dark Souls series. Although it's 3rd person, there's no reason it couldn't fit into the top down genre. This is also set on top of a paper, rock, scissors gameplay with dodge, counter, intercept (block being a mechanic added for the player to be able to breath for a moment to collect themselves).

    The important thing here though is to make sure to balance the difficulty with the amount of tasks the player is expected to juggle. And also, a game can be skill based without being frantic. Frantic isn't necessarily bad, but it's a good idea to give the player a second to collect themselves from time to time.

    For tactics you need to give the player a moment to evaluate the task at hand (Like with the blocking mechanic in Dark Souls). Think about obvious things like traps and cliffs, for sure. But also enemy placement and synergies. Give the player interesting choices with any given group of enemies.

    Let's say you have 5 melee minions with low HP, 2 tanks, and a mage.

    An Assassin is going to best off going straight for the mage, then running away, circling back to wipe out the minions, the drawing out the tanks one at a time.

    A Mage is going to be better off doing an area spell on the minions, backing up and taking out the tanks, then finishing off the other mage.

    A Barbarian is going to want to run in and do sweeping damage, scramble their ranks, then hopping between opportunities until everyone is dead.

    The important thing to note here is that both the enemies and the players are not just an ever increasing bunch of numbers. They are unique and fill a specific niche'. That's called orthogonal design, and it's why Doom was so good.

    Lastly is co-operation. There is no set way to do this right. If the game is explicitly team orientated, make sure to build the game around this and disregard single player. MOBA's would fall into this category. If it's an open game, make sure that team play is more carrot than stick, allowing single players to play solo. The important thing to do is to focus on synergies.

    If you have two middle ground players that are rounded, they should ABSOLUTELY get beat down by two players that are specialized. So two warriors should get womped by a knight and an archer.

    If your multiplayer feels like single player with someone else just there in the background, you have failed to make a good multiplayer experience.

    Diablo 3 is a perfect example of what NOT to do in all three regards.

    There is no skill in D3. No aiming, no dodging, no nothing. Just colors and nonsense.

    All of your fights are just wash, rinse, and repeat. There is no point to pick a hammer over a sword. You just get the one with the highest DPS. I don't even know why it has a weapon swap. And your skills are all tied to your DPS so you don't have to debate over building for melee vs building for skills.

    Meanwhile, it's effects are so cluttered it makes reading the battle field next to impossible, and enemies are really just different variations of damage outputs. There is no point in maneuvering around, even if you could see what's going on.

    And because failure is so low, co-operation means almost nothing. Co-op means there is someone next to you when you reach the boss, if you or they don't just wipe them out before the other person can get there.

    In D2 people used to wait for other players before a boss fight because failure was absolutely possible, and you could trade up agro-ing the boss to share the damage.

    None of that in D3.